Thursday, September 27, 2007
  NYTimes - Outsourcing Works, So India Is Exporting Jobs
I remember a software company, probably Sierra On-Line, in Steven Levy's book, Hackers, tried to do the same thing - train non-programmers to be programmers - because the company thought they could save money.

Guess what? It didn't work. Unless you're planning on cranking out a bunch of somewhat-competent programmers with maybe one or two superheroes in the bunch, it just doesn't work. Maybe these Indian companies have come up with a new formula. But I severely doubt it.

The American program here in Mysore is meant to keep open that pipeline of diversity.

Most trainees here have no software knowledge. By teaching novices, Infosys saves money and hopes to attract workers who will turn down better-known companies for the chance to learn a new skill.

“It’s the equivalent of a bachelor’s in computer science in six months,” said Melissa Adams, a 22-year-old trainee. Ms. Adams graduated last spring from the University of Washington with a business degree, and rejected Google for Infosys.
Friday, September 21, 2007
  Bloomberg: India Brokers Desert CLSA, JPMorgan for Local Firms, Millions
PMorgan Chase & Co. and Prudential Plc also have had defections in India. Domestic brokerages are winning staff with signing bonuses of $2.7 million and more, plus equity stakes. The competition is about to worsen as unlisted local brokers plan initial public offerings to fund expansion and as India's largest companies enter the industry.

Indian brokerage shares are surging. India Infoline has jumped 174 percent this year, with almost all the increase coming after the announcement of its new hires in May. JM Financial Ltd., which lured five sales traders from JPMorgan in August, has risen 92 percent in 2007. The nation's benchmark Sensitive Index is up 12 percent this year.

The chase for talent in finance and trading is one of the most intense in India, where high-skilled labor is in short supply. Professional wages will rise 14.5 percent this year after climbing 14.4 percent in 2006, according to human-resources firm Hewitt Associates.

Infoline's Jagannath and his three former CLSA colleagues were given signing bonuses of 110 million rupees ($2.7 million) each.

Jagannath, who spent five years in New York for CLSA before returning to Mumbai, was given the option to buy 2 million warrants at 440 rupees each, according to a statement made by India Infoline to the Bombay Stock Exchange. At today's value, his stake in the company is valued at 1.68 billion rupees. Subtracting his purchase price for the warrants and adding the $2.7 million initial bonus, he's ahead by $22 million.

Sunday, September 16, 2007
  NY Times - Bye, Bye B-School
Three years into his new job, Mr. Hammond noticed something. Very few of his young co-workers were taking a hiatus from Wall Street to go to business school, long considered an essential rung on the way to the top of the corporate ladder.

So he, too, decided to forgo an M.B.A.. Instead, he raised $5 million and started his own hedge fund, Alerian Capital Management, in 2004. The fund now manages $300 million out of offices in New York and Dallas, and Mr. Hammond, 28, enjoys seven-figure payouts.

Like other young people on the fast track, Mr. Hammond has run the numbers and figures that an M.B.A. is a waste of money and time — time that could be spent making money. “There’s no way that I would consider it,” he says.

As more Americans have become abundantly wealthy, young people are recalculating old assumptions about success. The flood of money into private equity and hedge funds over the last decade has made billionaires out of people like Kenneth Griffin, 38, chief executive of the Citadel Investment Group, and Eddie Lampert, 45, the hedge fund king who bought Sears and Kmart. These men are icons for the fast buck set — particularly the mathematically gifted cohort of rising stars known as “quants.” Many college graduates who are bright enough to be top computer scientists or medical researchers are becoming traders instead, and they measure their status in dollars instead of titles.

At funds that manage $1 billion to $3 billion, people with just a few years of finance experience will make $337,000 this year, Mr. Zoia says, and those with five to nine years of experience will average $830,000, up 6 percent from last year. These estimates include analysts and researchers but not portfolio traders, who can make much more because they sometimes share in profits.

Friday, September 07, 2007
  MSNBC - Thrown off plane for outfit deemed too skimpy
It doesn’t take much to get thrown off an airplane these days, as Kyla Ebbert found out when a Southwest Airlines employee told her she was too bare for the air. Two months later, she’s still trying to figure out what was wrong with her outfit.

It was a lot more clothing than the 23-year-old college student wears on her job as a Hooters waitress. Her mother, Michele Ebbert, said she would have told her daughter if the outfit was inappropriate.

“But her outfit is fine, Michele Ebbert told TODAY co-host Matt Lauer. “She looks like every other college girl in San Diego.”

Not according to a Southwest employee identified only as “Keith,” who approached Ebbert after she had taken her seat on the plane and was listening to the flight attendants go through their pre-departure routine.

A compromise was finally reached when Ebbert promised to pull up her top, which wasn’t showing cleavage to begin with, and pull down her tiny skirt.

What really tops the whole story off is that Ebbert wore the same outfit on the return flight to San Diego later that day. A female flight attendant also took note of it, according to Ebbert.

“I was complimented by the stewardess on my return flight,” she said.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007
  NYTimes - Doctor Links a Man’s Illness to a Microwave Popcorn Habit
A fondness for microwave buttered popcorn may have led a 53-year-old Colorado man to develop a serious lung condition that until now has been found only in people working in popcorn plants.

Lung specialists and even a top industry official say the case, the first of its kind, raises serious concerns about the safety of microwave butter-flavored popcorn.

“We’ve all been working on the workplace safety side of this, but the potential for consumer exposure is very concerning,” said John B. Hallagan, general counsel for the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association of the United States, a trade association of companies that make butter flavorings for popcorn producers. “Are there other cases out there? There could be.”

A spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration said that the agency was considering the case as part of a review of the safety of diacetyl, which adds the buttery taste to many microwave popcorns, including Orville Redenbacher and Act II.

But nothing in the Colorado man’s history suggested that he was breathing in excessive amounts of mold or bird droppings, Dr. Rose said. She has consulted to flavorings manufacturers for years about “popcorn workers’ lung,” and said that something about the man’s tests appeared similar to those of the workers.

“I said to him, ‘This is a very weird question, but bear with me. But are you around a lot of popcorn?’ ” Dr. Rose asked. “His jaw dropped and he said, ‘How could you possibly know that about me? I am Mr. Popcorn. I love popcorn.’ ”

The man told Dr. Rose that he had eaten microwave popcorn at least twice a day for more than 10 years.

“When he broke open the bags, after the steam came out, he would often inhale the fragrance because he liked it so much,” Dr. Rose said. “That’s heated diacetyl, which we know from the workers’ studies is the highest risk.”

Dr. Rose measured levels of diacetyl in the man’s home after he made popcorn and found levels of the chemical were similar to those in microwave popcorn plants. She asked the man to stop eating microwave popcorn.

Six months later, the man has lost 50 pounds and his lung function has not only stopped deteriorating but has actually improved slightly, Dr. Rose said.

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